Jack Crawford, USCG Auxiliarist Flotilla 25-08 instructor, conducts a boating safety class, July 20 in Alexandria, Va.

There’s nothing more relaxing than enjoying a lazy Saturday on the water after a hectic week. But, did you know the U.S. Coast Guard’s most recent compilation of recreational boating casualty data, from 2017, counted 4,291 incidents that resulted in 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and approximately $46 million dollars of property damage due to boating accidents?

The U.S. Coast Guard’s volunteer Auxiliary helps boaters avoid becoming grim statistics. Every year, the Auxiliary offers boating safety classes that teach boat handling and regulations, nautical “rules of the road” and other vital information that can prevent mishaps on the water. Knowledgeable auxiliarists such as Jack Crawford, pictured here teaching a Boating Safety class offered by Flotilla 25-08 (Mount Vernon) in Alexandria, helped instruct 123 students this year from February through the flotilla’s final 2019 class in July. Other flotillas throughout the U.S. also offered classes.

This training is required for operators of recreational boats in Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland, as well as most other states.

Did you miss out? Don’t worry, there are alternatives. For example, Virginians can still take the Virginia Boating Safety Course Online, Marylanders can take BoatUS Foundation’s Online Course, and D.C. residents and non-residents can take the District of Columbia Boating Safety Course online.

For a comprehensive list of training options visit and explore the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s “Welcome to the Recreational Boating Safety Outreach Web Site” to obtain free boating safety tools and materials.

It’s not too late to get smart on boating safety in 2019. But if you still want a live class, Flotilla 25-08 and other Flotillas will again offer classes starting in early 2020.